Our view: A decade of public service
For the first time in 10 years, Walter Magill didn’t have a council meeting to attend Tuesday night. The former Steamboat Springs City Council president has finished out his decade-long tenure on the council and officially stepped down from the dais Nov. 14.
Looking back on Magill’s time on the council, we can’t say we’ve agreed with every vote he’s taken and we know there’s been times when we’ve editorialized against some of those positions, but we do value Magill’s willingness to step up and serve in a tough role, and we have no doubt he served because he wanted to make Steamboat Springs a better community for his family and others.
Reporter Scott Franz had the opportunity to interview Magill over breakfast at Winona’s recently and reported on some of the accomplishments Magill is most proud of achieving during his time on city council.
Several of the projects Magill mentioned during the interview are ones we would also place in his “win” column. These include executing millions of dollars worth of improvements along Yampa and Oak Streets, which we believe have sparked a revitalization of the downtown business district, and helping to advance the idea of a shared law enforcement facility with Routt County, which will finally provide the police department with a much needed new police station after years of discussions that went nowhere.
Magill also served with four different city managers and was council president during an investigation into the city’s police department that found evidence of a hostile work environment and harassment. He weathered those contentious times, and under his leadership, the council navigated the rough waters and found some calm on the other side.
We also think Magill did a fine job of serving his constituents, which is reflected in the fact that after winning a two-year term on the council in 2007, he never faced another challenger in the 2009 and 2013 elections.
From the perspective of open government, we also give Magill positive marks. While president, Magill made himself available to reporters and did not shy away from answering tough questions. He also worked to get city council meetings televised, which was a big step forward for council transparency.
We’ve editorialized on several occasions about the importance of citizens stepping up and serving in elected office, and Magill is a good example of this kind of grassroots public service. Former city council member Jon Quinn might have summed up Magill’s 10 years of service best.
“To give that much time and energy and commitment to the city is admirable,” Quinn said. “It’s a huge time commitment and it’s a huge commitment in terms of energy.”
Magill ran for city council when he was in his 30s — the father of two young children and a small business owner. We think that took guts, vision and dedication, and we believe Magill served as a good role model for other young professionals seeking to make a difference in Steamboat Springs.
And we don’t expect Magill to fade from the community discussion. “I’ll continue to stay involved,” Magill said. “I love this place.”
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